Anti-tobacco. Anti-drunk driving. Anti-underage drinking. Anti-prescription drug abuse. Anti-water waste. The list of social issues marketing goes on and on, including everything from public transit to seat-belt safety to pet spay and neuter.
Why so many social issues ad campaigns? Well, for starters, R&R stopped calling them ad campaigns a long time ago. Now, we call them what they really are − community mobilization efforts.
It takes a village to raise a perception
The secret to effective social issues marketing isn’t a secret at all. Two scholars named Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen figured it out in 1980 and named it the Theory of Reasoned Action. As an equation, the theory looks like this:
In practice, it’s a lot easier to understand. Basically, it says that people’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions and behaviors don’t change in a vacuum. Every step along the way, people are looking around at what other people’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviors are, too. The more that everybody else believes or behaves a certain way, the easier it is for a person’s beliefs or behaviors to change and conform.
It makes sense. You see a billboard telling you that underage drinking impairs a teen’s brain development, and you think, “That’s interesting.” However, if you see your local bar, and supermarket, and office building, and gas station, and ski resort, and sports team, and friend all telling you to keep alcohol away from teens because it impairs proper brain development, then you’re likely to keep alcohol away from teens. Sometimes peer pressure is a good thing.
Creating win-win-win-win situations
To date, R&R Salt Lake City has created more than 230 unique community activations and partnerships for its social issues clients, ranging from cement companies putting spinning messages on the barrels of their trucks to the U.S. Ski Team wearing crushed beer can gold medals during training camp. The more unique and innovative the opportunity, the better. Three months ago, R&R built a taxidermy display of Utah’s deadliest predators at a sporting goods store, featuring a drunk driver as by far and away the most dangerous creature in the state. (We didn’t kill and stuff a drunk driver, by the way.) Stinky air fresheners, toilet bowl stickers, parade floats, billiard balls, fortune cookies, 13-foot-tall nutcrackers − they’ve all been featured as part of R&R’s social issues partnerships.
Companies and organizations like to partner on the issues because it shows them as good corporate citizens. The media likes the partnerships because they allow them to talk about important, but old and tired, issues in fresh, new ways. Our clients like the partnerships because they stretch budgets and earn free media coverage (more than $43 million), and the community benefits from the partnerships because they make positive attitude and behavior changes more likely. Everybody wins.
And speaking of winning
R&R’s social campaigns are among the most awarded and respected in America. MADD has named R&R’s underage drinking prevention efforts as the nation’s outstanding PSA campaign twice, and patterned MADD’s own national prevention efforts on R&R’s model. The American Public Transportation Association and National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse directors have officially recognized R&R’s campaigns as industry best practices, and R&R’s social issues advertising has won dozens of state, national and international creative awards.
The biggest win for R&R Partners, however, are the thousands of people leading healthier, happier and more secure lives as a result of our work.
It’s cool being anti.